A response to “The Last Jedi” haters: Don’t let nostalgia blind you

A lot of people have told me they don’t like The Last Jedi because it doesn’t feel like a “Star Wars” film. And those who I’ve asked all have different reasons: the comedy, the pacing, Leia’s force powers, the sheer amount of characters and information given in it.

But here’s my question to them: What even is a Star Wars film?

To answer this, most everyone goes back to is the original trilogy. All of Star Wars is compared to those three great films. It happened when the prequels were released and it’s happening again. But let us not let these beloved movies stunt the growth of the franchise.

The original trilogy was a product of their time and of ours. There was really nothing like it at the time in film and, for many of us, the movies are ingrained with our childhood. We’ve seen them dozens, if not hundreds, of times. Most of us have seen the new film once or twice. Nothing will be like the original trilogy for, just like nothing will compare to our first kiss.

And a lot that harkens back to those movies in The Last Jedi. Director Rian Johnson keeps some of it, discards other parts, remixes it and injects new ideas. This is new Star Wars. It would be foolish and a disservice to try and make films that make us feel exactly the same way the original trilogy did. It’s a different time and we’re different people. There’s still a lot that’s familiar, but there’s also a lot that’s new and different.

It’s clear this is a statement Johnson is making. The best example is the ending. Every other Star Wars film ends with a shot of our heroes, together, in a moment of celebration or peace, before the quick transition to the credits with the classic John Williams score. In The Last Jedi, we see a young boy hearing a legend of Luke Skywalker from one of his friends. After getting yelled at by what appears to be their slave owner, he walks outside, uses a little force power to pull a broom to him and looks up to the stars, much like young heroes did in previous films. He has the ring Rose left with the Rebel insignia. There’s still hope in the galaxy. Cut to the credits.

That scene, more than anything else in the movie, is the starkest break from any Star Wars film tradition. What Johnson is showing us is that Star Wars is not all about the characters we’ve come to love over the past 40 years or during the past two hours of the movie. He could have easily ended with the scenes of the Resistance members together in the Falcon — that would have been the Star Wars we expected. But what he did in the closing scene was show all of us that Star Wars is greater than what we think it is. It’s just not about the Skywalkers, the Senate, the Jedi, the Sith, the Resistance or the First Order: it’s also about everyone in the galaxy who’s been effected by it.

We see this in Rose as well, during her explanation of growing up in a mining system where war profiteers laid waste to their worlds. We see it when DJ explains to Finn that the weapons manufacturers are selling to both the First Order and the Resistance. If the original trilogy was about the personal growth and development of Luke, Han and Leia, if the prequels were about the political system that allowed a dictator to rise to power, the new trilogy is about the people who were victim to it all. It’s Finn who was taken from his parents as a child to become a Stormtrooper. It’s Rey who scavenges the battle ruins of Jakku, the final battle between the Empire and Republic. And it’s that boy who showed there’s hope even in the far reaches of the galaxy. That is why his scene was the last in movie.

While The Force Awakens felt very much like the films from the original trilogy, The Last Jedi is something different: It’s Star Wars for 2017. Today, the stories of oppressed people are being told more than ever. The Last Jedi highlights them in a way no other film in the saga has. It’s showing a new side of Star Wars. We thought it was all about the characters we’ve grown to love, but really they are only the tip of the iceberg.

Some people, when they see a classic artist in concert, like a greatest hits performance. Personally, I much rather like to hear their new music, their interpretation of what’s going on in the world and in their lives today. We can appreciate the art that has come before, but why should we be complacent with what happened in the past and continue to relieve it? The Last Jedi is a bold move forward, taking what we love and using it to challenge us. If anything, I am most happy that his film has opened up conversations that no other Star Wars film has. It’s dense, complex and leaves us with questions. If you don’t want your art to do that, stay home and rewatch your favorite films over and over, comfortably reciting lines and remembering your time as a child.

What claim do we have to the story and to the art to say what it should or should not be? Let’s embrace The Last Jedi for what it is and continue to enjoy the original triology for what they is. There’s more than enough Star Wars to go around.

All the benefits of a chain wallet and a carabiner: My new Tom Bihn wallet and key set up

I have a new wallet set up that I am very happy about. The problem I’ve had over the years with my wallet and keys is misplacing them. I’ve elieviated this, in part, by having a bowl near my door where they go whenever I get home. But there were still issues of them falling out of my pocket or forgetting to put them there. Are they in my pant pockets from yesterday?In my coat? Where are they?

I usually only want to carry two to three cards and some cash. I’ve used slim wallets, and they’re great, but they are often so thin I can easily walk about the door without it. For keys, I just throw them in my pocket but am always a little paranoid I will lose them. So I used a large carabiner that was uncomfortable, but I would notice if they weren’t there.

The best solution would be a chain wallet and hook the carabiner to my belt loop. Yeah, neither of those will work for me, stylistically or practically. It would be too much hardware.

I wrote down what I needed:

  • A slim wallet to hold a few cards and the occasional cash
  • A way for the wallet to never fall out of my pocket
  • A way to keep my keys on my body so I don’t loose them either
  • Something that is lightweight, not utilitarian, out of sight and simple to use.

I browsed several stores that sold slim wallets and unique key chains but nothing checked all the boxes. I dreamed of one system for both. So I went to the Tom Bihn website on a whim to see what they offered. This Seattle-based company makes really good bags and travel gear which lasts a lifetime. I’ve had my Smart Alec backpack for more than five years and have loved using it every single day. They had a few nice wallets, but nothing to the system that I wanted.

I searched the forums and found a few posts of what others did, and this one stuck out.

Instead of using it just for the wallet, I attached my keys to it as well.

So here’s the setup:

  • Handle Loop with an o-ring (the loop goes around my belt).
  • Pocket Pouch to hold cards and cash, connected to the Handle Loop o-ring
  • 16-inch key strap, with snap hooks on each end, connected to the handle loop on one end and my keys on the other end.

It’s thin, lightweight, and will always be on me. The longer strap for my keys makes using them simple no matter the situation.

I’ve been using a similar set up for about two weeks using other Tom Bihn gear I already had and this current configuration for about a month. I absolutely love it. I’ll update if I change it, but I don’t that’s going to happen. All this for $18, what more could you ask for?

King Crimson in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor was the fifth King Crimson concert I’ve attended this year, and it left me as excited as the first time that I saw them. It’s been amazing to see their songs progress even just from Washington DC a few weeks ago.

Level 5, Easy Money and 21st Century were standouts of the night. Level 5 felt like it has risen several levels since I last saw it, wow. There was a new dual guitar duet between Fripp and Jacko on 21st Century, with Levin joining in.

Mel Collins also had a special night, his parts had a particular flair. It seemed that his solo during LTIA 1 was 5 minutes long, stunning! It was great to hear LTIA II as well.

The sound in the auditorium wasn’t the best, the audience, at least where we were sitting was annoying, but leaving the show I was still in awe as I was after Minneapolis. Even after four performances, we had heard the songs like never before. Excited for Cleveland tonight; 1.5 miles from my parents house!

King Crimson in Washington DC: Timeless music in a city of drivel

Tony Levin was right: something changed about King Crimson in Mexico City earlier this year.

He wrote in his diary:

There is the feeling that this 5 show stand is an important chapter in the history of the band… It’s been, as I said, a memorable time here – we’ll see if it somehow influences the future of the band – I have the feeling it will.

There was something different about the band from when I saw them earlier in the year in Minneapolis and Chicago. It’s hard to describe. They felt more comfortable — like a new house or apartment that has been broken in after a few season.

But maybe it was just me. This was the fourth time I’ve seen them on tour this year, and maybe I’m finally starting to get this new eight-headed beast of King Crimson.

But probably, it was just me, as Fripp said when he announced before the tour on YouTube:

Unless you’ve seen this King Crimson live, you really don’t have the right to hold an opinion on it… Unless you’ve seen this band live three times, your opinion is not likely to be substantial.

So maybe seeing this incarnation for the third and fourth time this weekend, I can now fully understand what I’m saw on stage. I do feel a deeper understanding of what was at work, even if I can’t fully explain it (maybe that will be in posts to come). But I’m certain something has changed with the band as well… It’s a constant in everything.

But it’s for the better. Here are some personal highlights from the show:

  • Both performances were at Lisner Auditorium on campus of The George Washington University. There was a very different vibe than the pervious two shows: the University theatre was not tainted by many of less pleasurable aspects of live music, including security, extremely overpriced food and drinks, etc. It immediately felt like it was going to be an intimate show when we walked in and could see the no recording signs from the front door.
  • Fripp’s guitar solo at the end of Lizard both nights were amazing.
  • The three song melody of Radical Action was one of my highlights from the show. The songs are maturing and it’s great to hear in person.
  • The reworking of the first part of “Radical Action” was outstanding. I loved how they’ve changed the song and variated the speed of it. Meltdown is my favorite of the new music. And Level Five on Sunday was the best rendition of the song I’ve ever heard/
  • “Breathless” was a real treat — did not expect it.
  • As was “Discipline.”
  • The second night had some of the best versions of some songs I’ve heard. In addition to Level 5, the middle section of “The Letters” was exhilarating by Mel’s sax and everyone playing off of it. The first half of “21st Century Schizoid Man” sounded harder and faster than I’ve heard it with this lineup. It was like a runaway train.

The venue was just down the street from the White House, a source of discontent, ineptitude and idiocracy in our world today. And with all the surrounding drivel, it was especially poignant to walk by all of it and enjoy some timeless music that, if listened to, can potentially drown out the dull chatter and unlock a deeper understanding of who we are and the world we live in.


The line for the men's bathroom at a King Crimson show is no joke
The line for the men’s bathroom at a King Crimson show is no joke

Inconsistencies with Watch Face Display Time Ahead on the Apple Watch

Adding eight minutes to my Apple Watch…
The time on my watch face…
… and what I see on the now playing screen, and in other apps.

TL;DR: If you enable the Time Ahead settings on the Apple Watch, it doesn’t move ahead in the rest of the OS. Is this intentional or a bug on Apple’s part?

Whenever people drive with me and we’re going to a movie or a concert, they’re always get a little on edge. It has to do with the time. In my car, the clock is set 18 minutes fast. It’s a mental thing for me, seeing the time of likely when I will arrive helps get places on time and not rush.

Before the Apple Watch, my wrist watch was ahead eight minutes. This, too, helped me get where I needed to be.

But I never set it up on the Apple Watch because meeting notifications helped me get where I needed to be. But last week, I moved the time forward on my Apple Watch.

When I was driving to the airport and listening to a podcast, I glanced at my watch and saw the Now Playing screen (the default in WatchOS 4. I noticed the time in the upper right hand corner was not what I thought. I pressed the crown to go to my main Siri watch face, the time jumped ahead eight minutes.

So it seems that the Time Ahead settings only apply to the watch face, not where time is displayed on other parts of the watch. This makes sense — I don’t want to get notifications eight minutes early — but with the Now Playing screen a feature, it can get very confusing. I’ve looked at the time in this screen and thought it was eight minutes ahead.

I don’t know if this intentional on Apple’s part or a bug, but Time Ahead is getting turned off now. I’d like to use the feature but a watch with inconsistent time depending on what screen your in is no watch I want to use.

This week

This is something new I’m trying… a weekly post of the different things I’ve read and done. The above photo was from the War on Drugs concert I attended on Thursday night.

Quote of the week

The Information Age is being hacked from the ground up. The future will be a pretty interesting place but I’m interested if anyone will trust computers by the time we get there.

Gabe Weatherhead in MacDrifter: Wi-Fi Security Has Been Breached

What I read

Turn off your phone notifications. All of them. – Nathan Bransford

I like this idea a lot, but my concern with it and a lot of other articles I’ve read about cutting down and distractions is that what if everyone does it? How would we ever be able to call in another? I guess it all adds up and realize that email and messages to do that. I know I will add all of my bosses and people who are above me to my favorites list so I can get through do not disturb

Amateurs vs. Pros — CJ Chilvers

We should all love what we do. A fine balance as described here.

Inmates in Texas Pulled Together $54K of Their Own Money to Help Hurricane Victims

This truly amazing. We are all human.

Microsoft Outlook for Mac Undergoing Major Redesign – MacStories

I’d give it a try. Just as long as it doesn’t have that incredibly cluddered menu bar that so many Office applications have.

Apple Watch credited with helping detect lung blood clot that otherwise ‘would have been fatal’ | 9to5Mac

Reinstalled HeartWatch after reading this.

Take Craft Back: Craft Beer Community Wants to Buy AB InBev

Brewers Association Targets A-B InBev in New Media Offensive | Brewbound.com

This is so awesome. As someone in Craft Beer, its great to see an active campaign like this.